Have you ever been on a bad date where the other person wouldn’t stop talking about themselves? Or maybe they just didn’t get to know you before they made a snap judgement. Chances are, the relationship didn’t last very long. When you brand a company, you should consider that branding is like dating. To make the best impression with customers, a company needs to put on its best outfit and a winning smile, and let its personality come through. A good brand will make sure the relationship between the company and its customers stays strong.
What is a brand?
Many people, clients and designers alike, believe the terms “branding,” “brand identity,” and “logo” are synonymous. While these work together, they each serve different purposes. It’s important to know the meaning of these terms when rebranding your company, redesigning your logo, and even updating your website.
“The term logo is short for logotype, design-speak for a trademark made from a custom-lettered word (logos is Greek for ‘word’)” — Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap
A logo is a symbol, a graphic representation of your company’s brand. Logos, trademarks, symbols, monograms, emblems, and other graphic elements are not the brand itself but merely a symbol for it.
According to Business Dictionary, brand identity consists of “[t]he visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo, that identify and distinguish the brand in the consumers’ mind.”
A brand identity is usually what people think of when the term “branding” is mentioned. When these visual elements are combined, they distinguish the brand in a customer’s mind. However, a brand’s identity is not the brand itself; it is the set of tools used to build a brand.
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. You can’t control the process, but you can influence it.” — Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap
A brand can include voice, personality, customer relationships, staff, marketing strategy, and so much more that has almost nothing to do with your logo or your brand identity. Take a look at this illustration from Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap.
Notice that throughout this illustration, the woman is being told that the man is a great lover, whether from the source (marketing and advertising), through the phone (telemarketing), through another person (public relations), or through visual cues (graphic design). The exception to this is the last panel, where the woman (customer) decides to form her own opinion about the man. Branding is not what you say it is; it’s what they say it is. Your customer defines your brand.
Buying into a certain brand is a personal experience for the customer because what we buy says something about us. Why is shopping at Target a much more exciting venture than shopping at Kmart? Why do people buy Apple when their products may be lower in quality yet more expensive than other brands? A good brand knows what invisible threads to pull to convince you to buy their products because they’re targeting you specifically.
play the matchmaker
A company needs to match its brand with its customer’s personality in order to make the brand stand out from the rest. It’s impossible to pick and choose a company to buy from when every company is the same, so celebrate your differences and make them stand out. To make a customer fall in love with your brand, you have to determine what would attract a specific customer to your company; otherwise, it’s bound to be like a bad blind date. To learn who your customers are, start with research, look at what people say about your company online, and develop a buyer persona.
keep the relationship strong
“Brands are like people because people don’t fall in love with businesses; at the end of the day they fall in love with personalities.” — Yo Santosa, founder of LA-based design agency Ferroconcrete.
Once you’ve established what kind of person your customer is, it’s time to give your brand a personality. Start by looking internally at your business:
- What is the tone and culture of your company?
- What are your core values?
- What is the difference between your company and your competitors?
Before you can do anything, you need to figure out who you are and where you want to be. Otherwise, you won’t be able to attract anyone. Your voice, tone, and design should come about organically throughout this process.
Once you’ve established who you are as a company, don’t stray from it. Your brand should always look the same, sound the same, and offer the same experience to each customer it comes across. This generates trust, familiarity, and credibility with your customers.
communication is key
It’s important to communicate with your customers consistently throughout their buyer’s journey. Content is very important when you are developing a brand personality, and customers want to feel like they’re interacting with a friend.
Früute, a brand developed by Ferroconcrete for personalized gift baskets, has a friendly, witty, and clear voice.
Make sure your brand statement sounds real and personable. When a brand statement is filled with fluffy, buzzy jargon, that’s a warning sign that the company doesn’t care about developing a relationship with its customers.
A good exercise to establish a solid personality for your brand is to envision it as a person. Write down multiple scenarios where they are having real conversations with customers. This exercise will help your brand sound more like a real person and less like a corporate robot.
don't try to be someone you're not
Know who you are, and be comfortable in your own skin. What we buy says something about us, so customers will decide on their own whether a brand is “them” or “not them.” Brands are ultimately self-selecting, and companies should be okay with that.
branding at blue frog marketing
If you’re ready to create your own brand or are considering rebranding your company, Blue Frog Marketing can help! Our staff of professional graphic designers, web designers, content writers, and strategic account managers can work with you to develop a brand that is a perfect match for you and your customers.